Believe It or Not – Classroom Training Isn’t Dead

by Sharlyn Lauby on September 12, 2013

Yes, it’s true. Classroom training is not on the decline.

Now you might be thinking, “Hey, why all this talk about mobile and social learning?” or “How come eLearning is so popular right now?” And it’s true, training departments are discovering new methods. But that doesn’t mean the “old” methods are dying.

training, elearning, development, participants, classroom, mobile, social learning, ITM Group Inc.

According to Stacey Harris, vice president of research and advisory services at Brandon Hall Group, classroom training has increased about 5% in the past year based on their Relationship-Centered Learning research. The number isn’t huge but it’s not a surprise. In my experience, I’ve found that classroom training is starting to serve more than just a training purpose. It allows companies to create reward and recognition opportunities.

Senior leadership can spend time with participants and begin to develop relationships.

I’ve also seen human resources use classroom training events as a way to solicit feedback from participants about projects they’re working on. Think of it as a very casual focus group.

I often hear that the real value in social media is when people get the chance to take their online interactions to real life. I believe we see this trend in classroom training. Virtual teams getting the chance to meet each other. Employees from all of the world connecting in person then collaborating online.

The key for training providers (whether they’re internal or external) is to understand these “additional goals” for the event. These might not be formal learning objectives as much as they are event objectives. Trainers and facilitators need to build time for these interactions to take place. And smart companies are finding ways to use trainers in the activities.

Purist training types might not like their training events being watered down with other organizational activities. Personally, I see it as a wonderful enhancement to the overall experience. It brings senior leadership into the classroom. It gets participants talking about what they’ve learned over dinner and drinks – after the session, of course. HR is brainstorming ideas with participants. All good for individuals and the company.

If this is the direction classroom training is going, let’s hope it’s alive for a very long time.

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Jeremy September 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

It’s nice to see the re-emergance of the classroom as a learning tool and face to face interaction resuming a place of importance in networking and fulfilling business solutions. I rue the day we move toward a virtual kitchen.

Tom Hood September 13, 2013 at 7:08 am

Sharlyn,

Love your post and agree 100%. The challenge is to make in-person training more valuable to organizations and participants. Collaborative learning supported by technology, linking learning to vision and purpose in the organization, and most importantly building relationships and networks up and down (with leadership) and across the organization (across silos). And closing with brainstorms or ways of capturing insights all support learning that makes a difference.
Tom Hood recently posted..How to Profit from Innovation – Building the Agile Learning Organization

Sybil Stershic (@SybilQSM) September 13, 2013 at 9:05 am

This IS great news, Sharlyn. As a trainer who prefers to engage attendees in-person, I find the value-added benefit is primarily relationship-building among the participants. For in-house training, colleagues appreciate the opportunity to connect a face with a name and voice … for external, mixed group training, the attendees value the objective idea-exchange and the validation they’re not alone in dealing with certain challenges and internal politics.

Sharlyn Lauby September 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Thanks so much for the comments. I agree – classroom training offers many valuable outcomes. I look forward to seeing more blended options. I think participants would enjoy the variety.

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